Monday, June 8, 2015

The home stretch is always the hardest

Captain's Log: 8 June 2015; Hour: 1338

Remember that scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard crash on the final lap and the cars race, end over end, toward the finish line? That's what it was like for Yesterday on her final stretch.

We got the new batteries we needed in Paducah, KY and put them in place at Green Turtle Bay Marina. We all crossed our fingers and said a little prayer and I hit the starter button. The starboard engine fired right up. I hit the port engine. Instantly purred to life. We moved the boat over to the fuel dock and this time I personally made sure both tanks were topped off.

We encountered this before but for some reason there was a lot of water coming into the boat and settling in the engine room. That's the lowest point on the boat. We would check it about every hour or so during the 8 hour cruise to home and when the water got high we'd evacuate it through the emergency bilge pump on the port engine.

We arrived at Cheatham Lock at around 1415 hour and prepared to tie up. Everything was going according to plan. That's when it happened. The port engine idled down too low and shut down. Without the batteries fully charged I couldn't start it back up. We struggled against the current and tried to tie up with one engine but it was nearly impossible. I told the lock master I was going back out to practice maneuvering the boat with just one engine. He was very patient and told me to take my time.

I spent about 10 minutes getting used to moving the boat around on the starboard engine and got brave enough to try it again. This time we were able to clumsily tie up and lock through. As we were waiting for the lock doors to open it occurred to me. Without the port engine there was no way to evacuate the excess water that was coming in. I asked one of my boys to look. It was halfway up the wall to the floor. I checked the chart. The next place to dock was the Ashland City Boat Dock and it was about 10 miles away.

We headed up river as fast as one engine could take us. "The water is at the bottom of the floor," one of my boys informed me about two miles down the river. At that rate, the engine room would fill with water and we would be officially sinking. "Why don't we just start bailing it out?" one son suggested. It was our only option. I put my youngest son at the helm and I went down in the engine room. We used a tea pitcher and a metal bucket I used for various odd jobs around the boat and set up a fire brigade line from the engine room to a window in the salon. The bucket would be going one way, the tea pitcher the other. We bailed and bailed and barely held ground.

There was a lot of traffic on the river. I pulled myself up from the engine room and helped navigate. I got on the phone to the Ashland City Boat Dock and informed them of my situation. We needed 50-amp power at the dock. Did they have it? They'd check. If they didn't have it we were in big trouble. We had to have it to start the port engine. The lady came back on the line. "We have 50 amps at the dock." Thank God. "We're going to be coming in hot," I told her. "We'll clear the dock," she said. "Someone will be waiting there to tie you up."

We went back to bailing but the river was winning. I decided to concentrate on getting us to that dock. How much further. We saw some high-rise condos in the distance. I called and asked how far they were from those condos. Just beyond. We pushed forward. "The water is now above the floor," a son told me. I stayed focus on the bridge ahead. The dock was just beyond that.

We rounded the curve just before the bridge and got our first glance at the dock. It was small. Up against the shore, too. Would we run aground? I couldn't worry about that. We had to have that 50-amp power. A guy was waiting for us at the dock. I came in faster than I ever had before and slammed the starboard engine in reverse just before we hit. We threw him a line and he began walking the boat quickly up the dock.

Speaking of Talladega Nights, we looked like a pit crew. One of my sons already had the power cord over his shoulder. I jumped from the dock as did another son. I grabbed the cord from my son still on the boat, threw one end to another son and plugged the other end into the boat. He plugged into the dock. We hit the shore line switches inside and the lights came on telling me we had power. I hit the battery charger and ran to the port side and looked over. Two streams of bilge water were pouring out. We were back in business.

I hit the starter for the port engine. It revved to life. I ran down into the engine room and activated the emergency bilge pump to get the rest of the water out. The boys went for lemonade. Fairly calm for a near-death experience.

We unplugged and hit the river for the final stretch home. I called the boat dock to thank them again for saving us. They were happy to do it. We pulled into our harbor and standing on the dock of our new home was an entourage of other boaters waiting to greet us and help us snuggly into our new slip.

A mechanic met us and made sure our bilge pumps were working properly. Whatever had caused the excess water to enter the boat was gone now. We'd worry about that later. Everything was back to normal. The boat was fine and we were safe. And we made it. All nine days and 765 miles. We made it.

It was so good to be home. So good.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Who knew?

Captain's Log: 7 June 2015; Hour: 1108

I'm almost embarrassed to log this entry. And I still haven't quite figured out how this happened. We woke up early Friday morning at Clifton Marina. It felt like the boat was listing ever-so-slightly to starboard. We checked the instrument in the salon that shows you if your boat is listing. We were one degree off. I thought we might actually be on the bottom since we had walked the boat up the backside of the fuel dock where the shore was just a few yards away. I had the crew walk us back out to the end of the dock just in case. I didn't want to engage the props if we were on the bottom. We left Clifton Marina at 0645.

Once out on the river, I noticed we were still listing and then it dawned on me. Diesel Don had been showing me the flow-between valve for the fuel tanks. This is where I can't get any of this to make sense. If he closed the flow-between valve then when we filled up at Grand Harbor we should've been even. If he opened the flow-between valve we shouldn't be listing to starboard the fuel should even out. I remarked that we took on less fuel than I anticipated at Grand Harbor. Usually I'm personally supervising the fuel intake but we needed a break and went to lunch with my wife. The only thing I can figure is the guy only filled the starboard tank while we were at lunch and not the port. If the flow-between valve were cut off then that would explain the listing. We took on 245 gallons of fuel, more than enough to get us to Green Turtle Bay Marina even if the tanks had been empty so I just planned to figure the listing thing out when we docked.

Just 17 miles from Green Turtle Bay Marina the port engine ran out of fuel. I heard it start to sputter and frantically removed the hatch to the fuel tanks to change the flow-between valve. It was too late. The engine died and with no battery power there was no restarting that engine. Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Why didn't I just turn the flow-between valve while we were on the water? The answer is, we'd had enough bad luck already and I didn't want to chance screwing something up.

Fortunately for us, we died right in front of the entrance to Kenlake State Park Marina. We had planned to just fill up there but the diesel pump ran so slow, by our calculations, it would've taken at least 4 hours to fill it up. I put 35 gallons in the port tank and we floated the boat over to a dock with 50-amp power to charge the batteries yet again. At this point I'm ready to choke the guy who convinced me to try starting 32-volt engines with 24 volts. We charged the batteries about 20 minutes and tried to fire them up. Only the starboard engine would fire. Apparently the port engine needed to be primed and I wasn't sure how to do that so we headed out on one engine.

We hit Barkley Canal that joins the Tennessee River with the Cumberland, turned to port at the Cumberland for the short trip the Green Turtle Bay Marina and Resort. We've stayed at several places that claimed to be a "resort." As I've said, it's like places that call themselves "estates." Most aren't. In fact, they're usually trailer parks. Green Turtle Bay Marina and Resort, however, lives up to its name. Once we limped in on one engine and got checked in, we headed up to the Commonwealth Yacht Club for dinner. With all we'd been through I thought it was the least the captain could do to treat the crew to filets and shrimp.

The next morning, I was preparing to log this entry when I noticed two gentlemen looking at the boat. I was on the aft deck with my computer and one of them asked me what year the boat was. "1968," I answered, and got up to greet them. Matt Inman was one of the gentlemen and he would prove to be invaluable later in the day. His parents had a similar boat when he was growing up and he just loved the old wood boats.

I told him of our battery problems and he said he thought the marina's supply house carried those batteries. If so, we were back in business. We said our goodbyes and I decided to take a picture of the batteries to show the guy in the marina shop when they opened. I lifted the stairs in the galley that access the engine room and was immediately enveloped in panic. Water was above the floor in the engine room. I yelled for the boys to get up and ran down the dock to the marine supply store. It wasn't open yet. I ran back to the boat. By this time the boys were stirring and wondering what all the commotion was about. I told them we were taking on water and began looking through the brochure I'd been given at check-in for the emergency number. I couldn't find it but I did find the marina office. I called and they were open. I told them my emergency and they said they'd send someone right over. I don't believe I had been that freaked out on that boat since the infamous Gulf crossing. Then I started asking myself, why aren't the bilge pumps working? A-ha! They must be powered by the batteries and the batteries are dead. I turned on the battery charger at the breaker panel.

About that time, Matt Inman, the guy I'd just been talking to, boarded the boat. He looked down in the engine room while I went topside to peer over the railing to see if the bilge pumps were pumping. They were. Water was streaming out of the side of the boat. Matt confirmed that the water over the floor in the engine room was starting to recede. I started to calm down. Again, all of this because I was convinced to abandon the boat's 32-volt system. I knew one thing for certain. I had to replace those bad batteries.

Once the marine supply shop opened I walked up to inquire about the batteries. They didn't have the ones I needed but they gave me the number of Paducah Battery Supply about 35 miles away. I called and they had the exact batteries we needed. The problem was getting there. The marina had a loaner van but it was out and not expected to be back until at least 10:30. The battery place closed at 1pm. I sent my middle son to wait for the car and contact me when it arrived. In the meantime, my oldest son and I attempted to wrestle those 90-pound batteries out of the engine room. Of course, they couldn't be the ones closest to the hatch. They were both three batteries back in a very cramped engine room. And when I say "room" that's a generous term. It might be a room to Cousin It but the best we regular humans can do is stand on our knees.

We struggled to extract the port battery and, through sheer will and the brute strength of my oldest son, we pulled it out. We were just before starting on the starboard battery when we got a call from my middle son. The car was there and the clock was ticking. We had less than two hours to make the 45-minute drive to Paducah, get the batteries and get back. I left my youngest son on the boat to monitor the water in the engine room and if it got halfway up the side to the floor to call me immediately and/or go get someone from the marina.

Not having the second battery meant that we wouldn't get credit for the core which ended up being a $30 difference. Insignificant given our set of circumstances. We returned to the marina with the batteries as our time was expiring and began the task of putting those 90-pound beasts back into the engine room. The port side wasn't too bad. We man-handled the new battery over the others and dropped it into place. I reconnected the wiring, having taken a picture before I disconnected just to be sure.

The starboard battery extraction and replacement was a whole different matter. It was — wouldn't you know it — wedged under the battery charger. Now, we could've disconnected the two batteries in front of it and slid those out then reconnected them but it seemed like a lot of trouble. I wedged myself in the tiny space behind the batteries and the hot water heater and my eldest son and I began the battle to pull the battery from its resting place.

We began tugging and pushing and I started to feel a burning sensation in my ring finger on my left hand. No, it wasn't my wife sending a searing remote electrical shock through my wedding ring, although I'm sure if she could she would about now. It was something I hadn't counted on. Battery acid. I quickly called for a wet towel but by the time I had it wiped off I had two wounds in my finger that resembled a cross between a burn and a cut. I warned my sons before we continued.

We finally got the battery up on end and away from the battery charger and then pulled it over the other batteries and out. It was like dragging a dead body. We replaced the new one with equal trouble but we got it done. I hooked it back up in sequence with the others and then it was the moment of truth. If the engines fired we could fuel up and continue the journey. If they didn't, we were back to square one. The boys held their breaths. I turned the key and reached for the starter button. I closed my eyes.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting better every day

Captain's Log: 5 June 2015; Hour: 0740

I've been completely unplugged from the news world since we've been on this trip. The only thing I know for sure is that Bruce Jenner is now a woman. Apparently, I haven't missed much.

As you'll recall from the last log entry, we approached Wilson Lock in the middle of the night and were told they were closed temporarily due to electrical problems. We finally locked through five hours after we got there. I was scared to shut down the engines because of the battery issues. It
Wilson Dam & Lock at sunrise
would've been a mess had I not been able to get them started again. So I just sat at the helm and kept us from drifting ashore until daylight. In the meantime, a tug with about six sets of barges approached and I've seen this movie. They get priority at the locks. That means he's going to have to take those barges through two sets each trip. By that time, I'd had enough so I set a course back up river 5 miles to a yacht club I planned to finagle our way into. As I approached the entrance, I got a call from the new lock operator on duty. He apologized for the wait and said he was going to lock me through between barge lockings, which he didn't have to do. He also said I could tie up on the other side of the lock, something the overnight shift guy failed to tell me. Had I known that I could've gotten some sleep. We locked through with a tug boat and headed toward Pickwick Lake. A hat tip to the morning lock operator at Wilson Lock

We stopped at Grand Harbor Marina for fuel. My wife, Susan, was driving back from Mississippi and decided to surprise the boys by meeting us there. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a novice at this boating business but the crew and I have operated like clockwork docking and locking. It's been like a precision drill team. Wouldn't you know it, the first time Susan sees us it looks like Austin Powers when he gets that cart stuck in that narrow passageway. The wind was blowing the bow away from the dock and the more I fought it the worse it became. Then my port engine — the one that should be pushing us toward the dock — idled too low and shut down. Of course, with the battery issue it wouldn't start up which meant the wind just kept pushing the the bow further away from the dock. We finally got it docked. The guy working at the marina said he'd seen worse dockings but I'm sure he couldn't remember when.

We went to lunch at Freddie T's, went back to the boat, charged the batteries for about 30 minutes and the engines started right up. Which reminds me to insert something right here. The reason we're back on the water is because of the folks at Alred Marina in Guntersville, AL. I'm just tellin' ya, there aren't many places on the river with mechanics on duty to help in situations like that. Russ, Wally and all the folks there were fantastic. If you have to break down somewhere, that's the place to do it. They're the ones who hooked us up with Diesel Don. He's the reason we're back on the river today.

After leaving Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake, we locked through at Pickwick Lock. We were then officially back on the Great Loop that you've heard so much about. Our next stop was Clifton Marina in Clifton, TN. An entourage of marina folks and transient boaters were out to greet us and help us get settled. I highly recommend stopping there. We showered, ate at a great, little Mexican restaurant around the corner where we watched the first game of the NBA finals.

This morning I charged the batteries for about 30 minutes, hit the engines and they both fired right up. This is the way it's supposed to be. We were back on the river by 0645 (we did have a fender blow overboard and had to go back for it) and are tooling down the Tennessee hoping to put another 125 to 150 miles behind us. When we left this morning we had 273 miles to go. If we stay on schedule, that puts us back in Nashville on Saturday night, a day ahead of schedule.

Let me just say this in closing. I know this blog seems to have focused on the problems but it has really been a fantastic trip. There's nothing like sitting on that bow, away from the hum of the engines, and just gliding down the river, especially around sunset. One of my boys commented this morning that he had no idea he could do all that he's done this week as far as working the locks and docking the boat and, in general, being a part of a team that can take a boat this size 765 miles. Not that we weren't bonded before but this trip has shown these boys things about themselves that they never knew they had and has given us a common experience we'll never forget. The adversity even helped to cement that feeling of accomplishment.

Here's to a day with no hiccups. We'll check in with you at the next stop.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Things always look better in the morning

Captain's Log: 4 June 2015; Hour: 0537

After a fretful night's sleep last night I waited with trepidation for Wally the mechanic to return with his load-tester for the batteries. A total of eight 8-volt batteries. Just purchased less than a year ago. If they're all dead it will cost a small fortune to replace them. He tested the starboard bank first. Battery one was holding a charge. Same for battery two. Battery three was a little low. Not dead, just lower than the others. Battery four was fine.

I wiped the sweat from my brow.

The port side bank. Battery one, fine. Same for the rest of the bank. The tension washed out of my body. I felt like I'd dodged a bullet. But why wasn't the port engine starting? A smart man is a man who knows his limitations. "We'll have to call in Diesel Don," Wally said. Diesel Don? Apparently, he is the man. Known far and wide and liable to be just about anywhere. Wally got him on the phone. He was actually in town. Had a sea trial he had to do. Should be at our boat some time in the afternoon.

I know how that goes. Things happen. Jobs take longer than you anticipate. Hours slip away and, before you know it, the day is gone. Another day wasted.

I decided to put the idle time to good use. I worked on some projects I had started. The boys and I went to town on the marina truck and stocked up on provisions. We washed some clothes and made the best of our situation.

At about 3pm a wise-looking man boarded the boat as I relaxed on the sofa on the aft deck. "I hear you're in need of a mechanic," he greeted. I sprang from the couch. "Diesel Don," he said with a smile and an extended hand. "I can't tell you how happy I am to see you," I said.

He brought out his tools and went to work. We tried the port engine. Sounded like it wasn't getting enough juice. He wanted to test the batteries. I told him Wally's results. He had a special meter just for 8-volt batteries. My heart sunk. He tested the port bank since the starboard engine was starting fine. Like a doctor with a stethoscope he placed the leads on the posts. Battery one was fine. So was battery two. Battery three was a different story. "This one's bad," he informed me. Battery four was fine. Because the third battery was bad it was preventing the sum of the batteries to reach 32 volts.

"What are my options, Diesel Don?" He scratched the back of his head. "These 8-volt batteries are hard to find," he stated sympathetically. "They can probably have them here in a week but you don't have a week. You want to get out of here." I nodded. He asked me for jumper cables and I gladly produced them. Something Captain Bob had insisted I buy on our initial trip and he was right. We used them on several occasions. Diesel Don jumped the bad bank with the good bank and asked me to try the starter again. It tried to bite but couldn't quite get there. "Again." Same thing. "Hand me a pair of pliers." I did. I waited a moment while he moved around the engine room. "Try it now!" I bounded up the stairs to the helm and hit the start button. Suddenly the port engine came to life. Diesel Don peered over the aft deck railing down at the exhaust. The new impeller was working. Water was coming from the exhaust pipe. Water was streaming from the port spout.

The boys came to the helm from three different directions, their eyes dancing with excitement. "Are we good?" one asked. "It appears so," I answered. What was the problem? Why had we been stuck for two days? Sometimes it's the simplest things. When we docked in Guntersville the first night the starboard engine wouldn't shut down. I pulled the emergency shut-off. I apparently pulled it for both engines. On these old Detroit diesels you have to reset the emergency shut-off. Apparently that function wasn't working for the starboard engine but worked beautifully for the port engine. Who knew? Diesel Don knew.

Before I let him go I wanted to drink in more knowledge. We changed the fuel filters together. He showed me little idiosyncrasies of these durable but mysterious Detroit 8-71s. He gave me a recommendation for a diesel mechanic in Nashville. Almost like a referral from your doctor. And I really didn't care if his suggested mechanic was in my network. I'm going with any recommendation by Diesel Don. I'm a fan.

We settled up. He almost apologized for the bill. I was happy to write the check. We were back in business and ready to roll. We said our farewells and offered our appreciation to Diesel Don then cranked those capricious Detroits. We had already planned our next step. An all-nighter. We were stocked with several high-powered lights. (My boys learned all about lumens) We had our binoculars and two pots of coffee. At hour 1911 we were pulling out of the marina, thrilled to be back on the river.

After locking through one lock and then another, we found ourselves 8 1/2 hours and 98 miles down the river in front of Wilson Lock at 3:44 in the morning. We couldn't raise the lock master on the radio so I called him on my cell phone. The lock was having electrical problems and it would be around 7 in the morning before we could lock through. So, here we sit. I had to laugh at the irony. Electrical problems. Better thee than me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sometimes you wonder what boating people are thinking

Captain's Log: 2 June 2015; Hour: 2115

We arrived last night at Alred Marina in Guntersville, AL. It's one of the nicer marinas where we've docked. Swimming pool, laundry facilities, showers. It has everything but a restaurant. As it turned out, a restaurant was the least of the marina's services that we needed. It was other amenities that we would soon be thankful they had.

Reading back over my last log entry it's almost humorous that I said we needed to get an early start. I was up before dawn in anticipation of that early start. It was only a matter of making sure the
Yesterday on the Tennessee River
near Guntersville, AL
batteries were charged enough to start the engines. The starboard engine started just fine. The port engine started but when I went to check both sides for proper water flow there was nothing coming out of the port exhaust nor the port circulating spout on the hull. Only dark blue smoke was coming from the exhaust pipe. I quickly shut the engines down. No water circulating through the engine could only mean a handful of things.

I first opened the sea strainer and cleaned the mud from it. Putting it back together, I hoped that would solve the problem but I knew in my heart it wouldn't. The problem was most likely the impeller. As the word sounds, it's the opposite of a propeller. It's a rubber piece with fins that spins inside a pump to pull water from the sea or river through the engine to cool it. I went to the marina office and meet up with Russ, the manager. Soon he was at the boat with Wally, his mechanic. Wally removed the impeller and, sure enough, it was chewed up and useless.

This should be the part of the story where we just start up the boat and head on our merry way down the river. Oh, if it were only that easy.

When I started the port engine up it was doing the same thing. No water, lots of smoke. I called Russ and he told me to rev the engine several times to prime the pump and get water flowing through the engine. I went to start the engine again and it wouldn't start. Wally and Russ came back to take a look and that's when they made their discovery.

This is an old boat, 47 years old this summer, to be exact. It's set up on a 32-volt electrical system. Most boats these days are 12-volt. Without boring you with all the details, that means that each of our engines operate off four 8-volt marine batteries. We're talking huge batteries. These things weigh 90 pounds each! Long story short, I bought 8 new ones just before we brought the boat to Tennessee from Florida last year. We've had some charging issues and my diesel mechanic in Knoxville suggested I tie two 12-volt batteries together for a 24-volt system per engine. He said that's all I needed to start the engines. It appears that was bad advice. The consensus at the marina in Guntersville is the 12-volt batteries are the source of my problems. The 12-volt batteries are not only not strong enough to start the engines more than once or twice, they're not compatible with my electrical system. They can ruin the starter, not to mention the alternator will not recharge them which is apparently why I've had to recharge them myself.

The mechanic and the marina manager disconnected the 24-volt system and re-hooked the 32-volt system. I tried charging the batteries but apparently some or all of them won't hold a charge long enough to start the engines.

So, here we sit. The plan is to run tests on each battery in the morning to see if any of them are still good. We will buy the number we need but somebody will have to drive to Birmingham to pick them up. That somebody may be me and at least one of my boys if we can convince the marina to let us borrow a truck.

At this point, it's really difficult to say when we might be back on the river. We hope it'll be tomorrow but we've already had our hopes dashed so many times we're a bit gun shy.

I know this may sound like a frivolous afterthought but when we're out on that river there's nothing like it. It's almost worth the trouble. Almost. I have a feeling tomorrow may tip the scales against Yesterday.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A log entry at last

Captain's Log: 1 June 2015; Hour: 2315

We've been lost in cell hell for the past few days. You never realize how much you depend on technology until you can't get it. Let me bring you up to speed on our adventure.

It started out quite undramatically on the first day. We awoke Saturday to dense fog in Knoxville. We were so eager to begin our journey but had to wait until the fog lifted, which happened around 0930.
The view outside the marina the
morning of our departure.
The crew took its place at various posts about the boat and the captain fired the first engine. The port engine hummed and we smiled with anticipation. Second engine. Nothing. I lifted the hatch in the salon for the starboard engine to make an inspection. It took a few moments before the truth dawned on me.

Now, here's one of those life lessons. We've had some battery issues. It's too lengthy (and boring) to get into but our new diesel mechanic decided we needed only two batteries per engine to start those big Detroit Diesel 8-71s. We ran test after test. We took the boat out. We started it in the slip. We did everything imaginable. Here's the lesson. As we were switching over to the two-batteries-per engine scenario, the mechanic used a battery from the generator that we're not using right now. That's another long story from Ft. Pierce last year when a pump was replaced but was missing a part. Anyway, I made the call of using the old generator battery with three new ones. Bad call. Yes, I was trying to save money but it ended up creating a mess.

I had to go out and buy the fourth battery anyway and by the time I got it hooked up and got the boat running it was noon. A far cry from the COD (crack of dawn) we had planned. Despite our late departure, we made good time. We were cruising at about 11 knots (13 mph). That may sound like a snail's pace but for a lumbering, old cruiser like this one it's a great speed. We docked at sundown and had logged 100 miles.

We found ourselves in a place called Ten Mile, TN. Quite frankly, I'd never heard of it but the place was hopping. They told us there'd be live entertainment. It was a guy with a guitar. Was he good? I couldn't tell you. My ears were bleeding. I swear to you Led Zeppelin was louder in concert. We had to move outside where it was a little quieter. The burgers were good and we were exhausted so we hit the hay.

Sunday morning we awoke with a renewed vigor. That intensity quickly evaporated when neither engine would start. I quickly surmised it was the batteries. Again. Why were they dead? Had they not been recharged by the alternator? I had no idea. All I knew was we had to get those batteries charged because we were burning daylight.

Fortunately, as were we fueling up, the guy helping us said they had a jumper pack in the office. I needed a charger and not a jumper pack but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I called my diesel mechanic to make sure I didn't blow anything up and he instructed me to disconnect the lead that connected the positive from one battery to the negative of the other. I turned the jumper pack on each battery for about 10 minutes. It worked. The engines started and we were on our way. There was just one problem. This battery situation was only going to persist unless we did something about it.

The Tennessee River just
outside of Chattanooga.
We hoped to stop in Chattanooga to buy a battery charger but couldn't find any stores close to the water that sold anything like what we needed. We breezed by Chattanooga and into some of the most beautiful scenery of the trip. Last year, when we had come from Florida, we did that leg at night and I had missed most of the magnificence of that stretch. It was just gorgeous. The river was wide. The cliffs were steep to either side. It was like nothing we had encountered thus far and everyone on board was just in awe.

We had thought about stopping in Chattanooga but, believe it or not, transient options are very limited. We decided to press forward to Hales Bar, a marina I was familiar with from the last trip, and stop for the night. Speaking of stopping for the night, I need to do just that. It's late and we have an early start tomorrow morning. I'll catch you up on the next entry. Wish us luck on those batteries!
Two of the Valentine boys at sunset.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Coming soon! Uncle Phil takes 'Yesterday' from Knoxville to Nashville

It's been close to a year since Yesterday made her voyage from Ft. Pierce, FL to Knoxville, TN. A lot of work has been done on the boat (more details and video coming soon). One of the Valentine boys has been living on Yesterday as a student at UT while its been moored in Knoxville. Now it's time to bring her home.

Newly re-varnished transom with gold lettering
Starting 30 May, Uncle Phil and his three sons will embark on an adventure that will take them from Knoxville through Chattanooga then through Pickwick Lake at which time they'll pick up the Great Loop down the Tennessee River to Lake Barkley. From there they'll take the Barkley Canal to the Cumberland River then on to Nashville where Yesterday will reside.

The Valentine boys have been checked out as crew. The engines have been given an "A+ 100" by the diesel mechanic. The fiberglass top over the salon has been completely refurbished. (Remember the leaking into the salon on the maiden voyage?) The transom has been sanded and revarnished with new lettering. Interior work has been completed including all new carpeting, new headliner in the salon and painting throughout. Now it's time to stock the boat with provisions and make the long trek home.

The trip from Knoxville to Barkley Canal is approximately 600 miles. Another 145 miles and Uncle Phil and the crew will be in Nashville. There are several locks to navigate along the way. Traveling at approximately 10 knots (about 12 mph), the trip will take 7 to 10 days to complete. You'll be able to follow every step along the way right here. Phil will be blogging and posting photographs. Make sure you're following this blog so you don't miss a minute of the adventure.